Most people use a courier service to obtain a Chinese visa but I wanted to walk in myself at the Chinese Consulate in Houston. My agency didn't have a cheat sheet for me like they do for everything else :) as most visa application inquiries go directly to the couriers. They did help me with about 6 questions on the 4-page application but it wasn't easy. Every time I searched on RQ or one of my other groups for answers, I found conflicting information. It also didn't help that each Consulate or Embassy have their own set of application rules.
I had expected a long line out the door due to the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday but when I arrived just after 9am this morning, there were probably less than 10 people ahead of me. I also noticed two signs to remind everyone to turn off their cell phones, which was new to me as last year, we were forced to leave our phone in the car!
When it was my turn to approach the window, the young gentleman reviewed my husband's application, then looked through mine, then reviewed mine again, and handed me a pick-up slip. I was out the door in less than 50 minutes. Not bad.
I selected the "regular 4 working days" processing service so I will return to the Consulate on Tuesday (January 10th) to pick up our visas -- if they're not rejected -- and pay for them then (they accept money order, company check, Visa or Mastercard only). I will try to update my blog next week and include my own instructions for those who are walking into the Houston branch.